If you are looking for the best cheese for charcuterie, you are in the right place. We have come up with a list of our favorite cheeses for a perfect charcuterie board.
What is charcuterie?
Charcuterie is a spread of cheeses, meats, crackers, and bread. The meats and cheeses are placed on a wooden board (like a cutting board), which is where the name “charcuterie board” comes from.
Boards can be in all different sizes and shapes, depending on the number of guests you plan to feed. Charcuterie is a common appetizer and is frequently paired with drinks.
There are various charcuterie boards, like our Thanksgiving, summer, Super Bowl, and Mexican charcuterie boards. You can create a board for any event and diet. Our gluten-free and vegan boards are perfect for those with allergies.
Charcuterie boards do not have to be meat and cheese based either. Our birthday charcuterie board is full of candy, and it is delicious. We also have our pancake and cookie charcuterie boards that you should try.
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What is the difference between hard cheese and soft cheese?
Besides the texture, there are some differences between hard and soft cheeses. Soft cheese is more moist, with about 50% of moisture or more. For cheese to be considered hard, it needs to be less than 50% moist.
Aging the cheese gets the moisture out. Hard cheese is pressed to remove moisture and can age for years. The older the cheese, the harder and sharper the cheese.
Soft cheese is moist and usually is not aged. If aged, the process is no longer than 2 weeks. There are in-between cheeses that are semi-soft or semi-hard. It all comes down to the moisture level.
Semi-soft cheeses are aged a bit, unlike some soft cheeses. Semi-hard cheeses are aged longer than semi-soft but less than hard cheese. They also have holes in them most of the time, like Swiss cheese.
Hard cheeses have a sharper taste, making them a great addition to a cheese platter. They provide a variety of flavors that are a great contrast to softer cheeses.
Cheddar cheese is one of the more popular cheeses out there. It has a smooth texture and almost like a buttery taste. Then you have sharp cheddar, which has more of a nutty flavor.
Then there is white cheddar, which tastes like regular cheddar cheese. Orange cheddar cheese is dyed with vegetable dye to give it the orange color it is known for. So, white cheddar is typical like typical cheddar, just without the dye.
Next is cotija cheese, which is named after the town of Cotija in Michoacán. It has more of a feta texture when first made, but as it ages, it is more similar to parmesan.
Manchego cheese is made from sheep’s milk and is typically made in La Mancha, Spain. It is aged anywhere between 60 days and 2 years and has a firmer texture. You will also find some air pockets in this tasty cheese.
Parmesan is a popular choice for many meals, like pasta, and is a great option for the perfect cheese board. It comes from Italy and is aged for at least 12 months.
Gouda is an interesting cheese with a unique flavor because its flavor changes as it ages. When it is young, it has a sweet taste. As it ages, there is more of a tangy flavor with a hint of caramel.
Pepper jack cheese, known to be a bit spicer, is a descendant of Monterey jack cheese. When you add jalapeños to Monterey jack, you get pepper jack! Jalapeños are shredded into the cheese, giving it that spice kick.
Mozzarella is commonly made with cow’s milk, but original mozzarella comes from buffalo milk. It is an Italian cheese that is made with the pasta filata method. Mozzarella is common on charcuterie boards and is a great choice for your board.
Just like mozzarella, provolone is made via the pasta filata method. Provolone is Italian, but it is also made in other countries. It starts with a buttery flavor but gets sharper as it ages.
Semi-soft cheeses are still creamy but have more flavor than soft ones. They commonly are aged longer than soft cheeses, which gives them that extra flavor.
Blue cheese is made of mold that you can eat, which may sound gross, but this cheese has incredible flavor. It has blue veins throughout, giving it its name. This cheese has a funky and salty flavor, which greatly contrasts with other foods.
Asiago can be considered semi-soft or hard cheese, depending on how long it ages. It has a creamy, mild flavor when semi-soft (aged 60 days or so). It has a nutty flavor when on the harder side (aged 12 months).
Munster cheese (not monster, even though I thought it was called that for a while) is a yellow-white cheese that ages between 5 and 7 weeks. It has a buttery flavor with nutty notes.
Soft cheeses have a creamy texture with a milky and mild flavor. While hard cheeses have a more complex flavor, soft cheeses provide soft textures, making them easier to spread on a simple cracker.
Feta is a mix of sheep and goat’s milk, originating in Greece. It is made into a large block of cheese, but its crumbly texture allows it to break up easily. Feta has a salty yet creamy taste, making it perfect to snack on.
Ricotta cheese comprises any milk left over from making different types of cheese. It is extra creamy because of all of the milk types. Ricotta works in desserts and savory dishes.
Brie cheese is the perfect addition to charcuterie because of its soft texture. It comes in a wheel shape and has a rind (which you can eat). You can melt it and dip crackers and chocolate in it, and oh my, is it yummy.
Goat cheese has a unique tart flavor, but its flavors cannot be missed. Goat cheese’s earthy flavor and soft texture are a must-have when making the ultimate cheese board. Even though it’s from a goat, it is still considered dairy, FYI.
Cream cheese is one of the softest cheeses because it is used as a spread. Many cream cheese flavors are out there, making cream cheese perfect for any charcuterie board. You can add it to your dessert board too!
Not a fan of dairy? No worries. There are vegan cheeses out there for you!
Vegan cheese is made of vegetable proteins. You will also see nuts, soy, tapioca, and arrowroot in vegan cheese. It is best to offer allergen-friendly options when serving food to guests.
We have some epic cheese boards for every occasion. There are our Valentines, Christmas, and Halloween boards that are perfect for the holiday season. Try our small charcuterie board if you plan on serving a smaller crowd.
These charcuterie cones are fun if you want to try something new. You could also try out a mega cheese board: a grazing table. A grazing table provides a great opportunity to try out various cheeses with different flavors.
It is important to note that cheeses do not last long at room temperature. It is best to put the cheese back in the refrigerator after about an hour (if it is hot) or two.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t! Our charcuterie board shopping list includes everything you need to build the perfect board. Plus, you can find everything you need at your local grocery store.
So, if you are ready, pick some of your favorite cheeses and make the best cheese board for your next party. Add some seasonal fruits, fresh herbs, and crackers to add to the delicious flavors of these cheeses.